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Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online

Charter's Trials of NebuAd Halted 97

Posted by timothy
from the what-we-meant-was dept.
RalphTheWonderLlama writes "The trials of NebuAd by Charter Communications were halted after it gained the attention of Congressmen Ed Markey and Joe Barton. The online behavioral targeting system has been called "a 'man-in-the-middle attack' and various other unflattering names" but would certainly be an easy way for an ISP to cash in on client profiling." PaisteUser points out MSNBC's coverage as well, according to which the ad-insertion scheme was dropped because of "concerns raised by customers."
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Charter's Trials of NebuAd Halted

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  • Customers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oahazmatt (868057) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:57PM (#23938881) Journal

    PaisteUser points out MSNBC's coverage as well, according to which the ad-insertion scheme was dropped because of "concerns raised by customers."
    I'm inclined to believe it was "concerns raised by investors" that had more impact, however.
  • Delayed != Halted (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:01PM (#23938945)

    From the article:

    Charter has now agreed to delay any further rollout, though it won't abandon the plan entirely.

    Elsewhere, I have read predictions that up to 10% of Internet traffic was going to be commercially monitored by the end of the year. It might be good for everybody to let friends and family know and to start making privacy-enhancement software easy to use and ubiquitous.

    If people don't know about it, they're unlikely to raise a fuss and then we're all sunk.

  • Possible to Block? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Angry Mick (632931) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:03PM (#23938969) Homepage

    I've seen plenty of coverage on this, but no technical details on how it would actually be implemented beyond there being a mysterious "box" at the ISP. Is it, or will it be, possible to block or restrict this device from tampering with traffic? Or are we pretty much at the mercy of the providers here?

  • by lazyDog86 (1191443) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:03PM (#23938989)

    I particularly like the little bit about how they will hold off on implementation while these important privacy concerns can be addressed.

    Who wants to bet that addressing this means waiting under a rock until no one's looking and then going forward with substantially the same nonsense?

  • by chiph (523845) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:07PM (#23939041)

    "The trials of NebuAd by Charter Communications were halted after it gained the attention of Congressmen Ed Markey and Joe Barton.
    So, hundreds (possibly thousands) of angry complaints by your customers get ignored, but as soon as someone from Washington calls, things start happening?

    What awesome customer service!
    Chip H.
  • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:10PM (#23939095)

    If ISPs are going to keep their de facto monopoly status, they should be prevented from doing anything buy carry data, by legal means if necessary.

  • by QuantumHobbit (976542) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:12PM (#23939129)
    I would prefer they just went ahead with it and caused a huge PR meltdown. Now they'll simply wait until Congress isn't paying any attention and try it again. They'll keep at it until this becomes the norm for internet service and their customers stop complaining.
  • by baldsue (1306479) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:14PM (#23939159)
    I'm a charter customer and received a letter in the mail with instructions how to opt out. It was fairly easy but did require a few minutes to do. Woulda been much nicer had it been an opt-in option, instead.
  • Welcome my son, (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:19PM (#23939233)

    To the machine.

  • by QuantumHobbit (976542) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:22PM (#23939289)
    I've heard that they would probably just ignore the cookie. That or redirect the cookie tagged traffic to the NSA saying "We found another tin-foil-hatter for you."

    Your only hope would be to encrypt your traffic, which would raise a few flags if they are really watching you that closely.
  • by QuantumHobbit (976542) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:27PM (#23939361)
    The congressmen can actually do something. The customers are stuck in a high speed internet monopoly. My parents have Charter internet and it basically works when it feels like it. But their other options are dial-up or satellite. Charter doesn't care about the customers because it doesn't have to.
  • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:31PM (#23939437)
    Well, no wonder you in the US seem to have such a hard time weeding the liberalist cancer out of your system, since those damnable liberalists - Thomas Jefferson, James Madison et al. - were infecting your nation with the ideas of, among other liberalist thinkers, John Locke and Adam Smith, from the very beginning.

    (sorry for feeding the trolls, I just couldn't quite pass this one by. I can't fathom how the term "liberal" can be so mangled in contemporary USA.)
  • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:39PM (#23939549) Homepage Journal
    The utility analogy is especially apt. This is like if the local water utility started to transmit waste in the water lines.
  • by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @04:32PM (#23940453)

    When the average of your population reads at a basic or below-basic level, it is quite fathomable indeed.

    To quote the late great George Carlin, "half of them are even stupider!"

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @05:06PM (#23940949)

    The TOS that people sign don't abrogate their right to privacy, especially with other individuals with whom they communicate who are not party to the TOS in any way. The Charter TOS may in fact be illegal. IANAL, but deep inspection is a radical and unexpected step!

    Charter, unlike say AT&T, is usually the sole provider in their own markets for cable, and so there is no competition; it's not a matter of hey-- let's go with TW, Cox, Comcast, etc. That's not the way cable plays, although an attempt to do this years ago was tried.

    Litigation does work. Legislation is iffy. Scaring the hell out of people in congressional hearings is a joy in circumstances like this.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @06:55PM (#23942379)
    Get's a little old, however, hearing people throwing around the term "monopoly" or "monopolistic" when they really don't know what the FUCK they are talking about.

    Most of the places I've lived, there was only one choice for terrestrial high-speed connections. The only other "option" was something like IDSL, expensive and slower than high speed offerings. Satellite is an option for anyone that doesn't mind round trip times of 1 second that creep up to 3 seconds in high-usage time, often with really low caps and are quick to throttle you if you use it for more than viewing static pages and downloading text emails. If you think that's an equivelent option to 20+ Mbps ADSL 2+ or 10+ Mbps cable offerings, then I think you are making an unreasonable range of equivelency. That's like saying that the post office didn't have a monopoly (even though it was defined as a monopoly and technically is still a monopoly by law) because you could always walk 1000 miles to deliver the message yourself. Technically true, but practically worthless, and it does nothing to change the monopoly status of the Post Office.

    Yes, I agree that people often mean duopoly when they say monopoly, but the point is the same. There are, in almost all locations, only one or two choices for high speed Internet. Most of those carriers have or still do receive direct payments from the government for services provided or increasing availability. Because choices are limited to one or two real choices, and those choices are funded by the government, people believe the government should step in and make sure the government-supported monopolies play fair.

People will buy anything that's one to a customer.